School of Athen by Raphael (1511)
Greece Stamp issued 1978
Vatican Museum and Galleries, Vatican City (Rome)
This stamp captures a very small part of the high renaissance style fresco, The School of Athens, which is one of Raphael’s most famous works. It was completed to decorate the Stanza della Segnatura commission by Pope Julius II. The Stanza was the first set of rooms to be decorated, and this painting was the second in the set of paintings that adorn the walls. Although it was created for a grand room in the Vatican, nearly every one of the figures in the painting can be identified as a Greek philosopher, rather than a religious character. The fresco's position as well as the philosophers' walk in direction of the Holy Sacrament on the opposite wall suggested the interpretation of the whole room as the movement from the classical philosophy to the true religion and from the pre-Christian world to Christianity. Raphael included the likeness of Michelangelo himself in the painting, as the philosopher Heraclitus. The stamp series was issued to commemorate the 2,300th Anniversary of the death of Aristotle.